The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 64, July 1960 - April, 1961 Page: 140
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
In January Frances Parker completed a master's thesis at the
University of Texas. An abstract of the study, which has been com-
mended from a wide variety of sources, is as follows:
ROBERT THOMAS HILL, JR., geologist, was born in Nashville,
Tennessee, on August 1, 1858. The story of this pioneer geologist
covers nearly eighty-three years.
His earliest recollections were of events in Nashville during the
Civil War, in which his father was killed. As a result of the war,
Hill's family was scattered, and at age sixteen, Robert moved
to Comanche, Texas, to live with his brother, who was editor of the
Comanche Chief; here the boy learned the printer's trade. During his
seven-year residence in this rough frontier town, Hill made several
trips to Fort Griffin and one cattle drive up the Western Trail to
Dodge City, Kansas. He dragged a surveyor's chain over the Red
Beds of Texas from Fort Griffin to the foot of the High Plains, an
area which few white men had ever seen. These trips stimulated the
youngster's interest in geography, but his interest in geology was
aroused by the fossils he found in Round Mountain near Comanche.
He secured a geology textbook to learn more about the shells and
discovered formations unknown to the outstanding American geolo-
gists of the time.
Desiring to know more about the subject of geology, he applied
for admission to Cornell University after completing only six years
of elementary schooling. He enrolled in the difficult geology course
in 1882, worked his way through college as a printer, and graduated
Hill began his career as a scientist with the United States Geological
Survey, becoming a principal and chief geologist. He was sent to
Texas in 1887 to organize a state geological survey. While in Austin,
he also established the chair of geology at the University of Texas
and became the first professor and department chairman in 1888.
He induced the Regents of the University to organize the Texas
Mineral Survey, which became the present Bureau of Economic
Geology. He later served on the faculties of the University of Cali-
fornia at Los Angeles and Southern Methodist University.
In 1895, he studied the Caribbean area with Professor Alexander
Agassiz of the Harvard College Museum of Comparative Zoology,
and became known as the "Father of Antillean and Isthmian Geol-
ogy." He wrote an article in 1896, which enumerated the advantages
of a canal route through Panama instead of Nicaragua as proposed,
and his maps were used in reports which led to the selection of the
Isthmus of Panama for the inter-ocean waterway. His report on
Cuba was valuable to the United States Army intelligence officers
during the Spanish-American War.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 64, July 1960 - April, 1961, periodical, 1961; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101190/m1/162/: accessed August 23, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.